Add a headingWELL, I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING…. 


There is lots going on at the moment. God is presenting us with new encouragements and challenges. The movement of his Spirit is more evident. And the enemy is unhappy, snapping at our heels with irritants, inconveniences and attempts at division.

All good then. We say “more Lord!”.

Last Sunday was Father’s Day. Not that you would have noticed because we were transfixed by the story of what life in the UK is like for a refugee – someone, a real person, a Father. His story told of escape from violent gangs and threat to life. Raised expectations and broken promises. Ill will and assumption just because of human circumstances. Prolonged deprivation,  some small official hospitality. And the compassion that comes from hearts moved by the love of Christ.

It was a powerful morning that moved many. I’m not sure we missed either the chocolate bars or bacon butties of old. This was God moving his people. *

The Third service has opened up gently into a place where unusual suspects, people who normally don’t speak up, sharing words and pictures. Others coming forward with possible interpretations. A real sense that prophecies of old are just about to come to fruition. If you haven’t been yet, come.

In the evening we hosted Patrick Regan and the Kintsugi Hope crew. It was a powerful evening of wisdom and encouragement that its “Ok to not be OK” and ways of letting God build our resilience in the face of trauma and difficulty. A refugee family came. They joy of encouragement, meeting people and stimulation was all over their faces. The book we supplied a treasure. It only occurred to me later that with no TV or other means in the hotel room, that this book may well be read many times! I hope that it is a comfort.

And that was just one Sunday. We say “More, Lord”.

We don’t know what the future looks like, but by perseverance, openness and obedience we hope to find out – step by step.

We are not the only ones not knowing the next steps. As I write an e-mail has just come out from New Wine to say that the Peterborough site where United 2022 will be held in just over a month will not be available next year. Breaking the news with a prophecy:

The Lord recalled to me the Israelites coming out of Egypt to the Red Sea, where it looked like they were trapped. Moses held up his staff. The waters parted and the Israelites crossed to dry land. The Lord made a way where there was no way. I had the sense that New Wine is being pursued by the enemy but the Lord has put protection between New Wine and the enemy. The Israelites had to learn a whole new way of living. The Lord will make the way forward for New Wine; they will have to change to adapt to a new environment. Healthy growth will spring forward.

And in the words of the New Wine leadership “We have opportunity now to press some form of ‘reset’ button”.

In 2019, just before the pandemic, New Wine revealed a new strategy which was to equip and empower local churches “in the other 50 weeks” to enhance the teaching and experiences of the summer conferences at a local level with more local events and strengthening the area networks. That was the first year that New Wine United was held at Peterborough, the previous Somerset venue for 29 years no longer being available. In 2019 the event had to close early because of hurricane winds!

2020 and 2021 saw the advent of United Breaks Out , a series of online talks and worship and events that many churches in 2021 embraced as “United at home” – some setting up tents in the church grounds and having the fellowship they remembered from the larger gatherings. New Wine Online sprouted from this as an online resource of teaching and training to equip local churches.

2022 is a return to the showground event.

New Wine faces a decision about how that strategy is to be taken forwards. The vision of New Wine is Local churches changing nations. On their “Who we are” web page it says this:

Who we are

We’re a Spirit-empowered movement bringing this nation back to Jesus – through the local Church – one renewed life at a time.

What that means

The vision and reason for New Wine has always been to equip the local Church to release confident, Spirit-filled followers of Jesus. We want to see:

  • Churches filled with the presence and power of God, overflowing with love and hope to their communities
  • Individual Christians who know how to move in the power of the Spirit, making God known in their streets and workplaces
How we achieve it
We are committed to making this vision a reality through:
  • Prayer
  • Training people in Holy Spirit ministry
  • A network of church leaders and practitioners who model our values and generously give away what they have received from God
  • Gathering around a rhythm of yearly festival including national, regional and local events focussed on Spirit renewal, presence-filled worship and biblical teaching

Hmmmm. What might this look like in the future? How different to Egypt (the big summer gathering and some events through the year) might the next steps look? What would help us as a church grow in these areas – not just those who can face camping or taking a week off in the summer but throughout the year and within reach of Purley?

These are the questions that New Wine leadership, and member churches, need to grapple with. This is what all churches need to think through – what does the post pandemic church look like?

What does reset look like?

The temptation for anyone needing to think the unthinkable is, like the “Bestie” cartoon captured the Israelites on the verge of crossing the Red Sea, looking down at the path they were to cross and complaining to Moses “It’s a bit muddy!” Reset looks like stepping out even when it’s a bit muddy! Accepting the inconvenience in the face of God’s miraculous leading!

Let me finish with an artistic analogy. I hope that it is helpful.

We can think of a sculptor shaping material to make the piece that will result. Forming and shaping a thing of beauty. Michelangelo disagreed:

“The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”

Please pray for the New Wine leadership as they deliberate what walking through the Red Sea might look like. Please pray for the United 2022 event. Please ask God what this might mean for the New Wine movement, what part we might play.

Please let me know what you hear God saying and what would help us, here.

Ask God what sculpture we at Christ Church are being gifted by God, and what is the superfluous material that he asks us to chip away!

Every blessing

Doug

vicar@christchurchpurley.org.uk


* If you want to know more about how to help Refugees locally speak to Doug; and/or write to your local MP chris.philp.mp@parliament.uk if you would like to see changes to our current system.